The Party Splits

We discuss the challenge posed by the Independent Group and by Tom Watson inside Labour to conventional two party-politics in Britain.  

Can the system hold together? If not, what might replace it? And where are the new ideas going to come from? Plus we talk about what the ERG 

wants on the Tory side: is it simply Boris? With Helen Thompson and Mike Kenny.

Talking Points:

The Independent Group is inching toward becoming a party. What will their platform be?

  • The only thing they seem to have in common is wanting a second referendum.
  • They’re pitching themselves as something new, but these are all career politicians.
  • They have to show that they can win votes. But where?

How did we get here? Two major drivers:

  • The Second Referendum issue—especially after what happened with the Cooper and Brady Amendments.
  • The Labour antisemitism issue—especially around Luciana Berger
  • It’s not surprising that there are major tensions in the party system at the moment that Britain is leaving the EU, but it’s also happening at the same time as a crisis in the Labour Party.

What is Tom Watson up to?

  • Watson thinks there needs to be space for the social democratic tradition within the Labour Party.
  • This marks the end of accomodation with Corbyn and may be a bigger threat than the Independent Group.
  • The real point of departure between Watson and Corbyn is foreign policy.
  • The social democratic brand is in trouble around the world.
  • But the countries where the centre left has done poorly in Europe are eurozone countries. The centre left in Britain moved to the left in response to 2008. It might be hard for Watson to distinguish himself from Corbyn on the economic front.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Further Learning:

And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here:


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